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KC metro’s largest eSports competition has videogamers excited for weekend festival

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The future has arrived, and it will be on display this weekend.

Nextech KC will host the first-ever eSports and Tech Festival at Hy-Vee Arena in Kansas City's West Bottoms. Promoters said it's a huge tech showcase that will feature the largest eSports competition in metro history.

The event is expected to draw thousands of gamers and video game enthusiasts, some of whom will actually sleep at the arena, rather than hit the hay elsewhere.

The eSports and Tech Festival will be a celebration of all things related to tech and competitive video games.

Beginning Friday afternoon, eSports teams from at least 11 colleges will bring hundreds of e-athletes to the former Kemper Arena.

Nick Engstrom, event coordinator with KC GameOn!, said his group has been hosting videogame get-togethers for 15 years, many of which have been at KCI Expo Center.

"This is our biggest space by far. We've doubled our size," Engstrom said Thursday.

Larger arenas for eSports competitions have become the norm, due to the worldwide popularity of competitive gaming.

"You're going to hear a lot of ding-dings. You're going to hear a lot of cheering," Engstrom smiled. "In eSports, a lot of these kids are interested in technology-type jobs."

College teams from the universities of Missouri, Kansas and one excited group from Park University are expected to compete. Park's coach, Ashley Jones, who leads 21 e-athletes, said her team couldn't be more excited to play its first competition with a live audience looking on.

"Now that we're starting to have these huge events, and people are starting to take notice, and we have a lot of big names that are showing up -- I think this is the tip of the iceberg for things to come," Jones said.

Unlike some eSports events, this one will also include displays from vendors dealing in virtual reality, robotics and solar electricity.

There's also a free play zone for the general public, as well as a tournaments for pinball and Pokemon and even board games, for gamers who are more traditional.

Nextech KC's leaders still have tickets available for this weekend's event, which runs until Sunday. Click here and you'll be connected to that group's ticket registration site.

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